Suffering from stress and anxiety, and looking for a natural remedy? You’re not alone.
What Is Stress?
Stress and anxiety are basically the same thing – the body’s reaction to any stress factor.
A large number of physical changes take place when a person is under stress. The brain and nervous system become intensely active; the pupils of the eye dilate; digestion slows down; muscles become tense; the heart starts pumping blood harder and faster; blood pressure increases; breathing becomes faster; hormones such as adrenaline are released into the system along with glucose from the liver; and sweating starts.
All these changes like place in split second under the direction of the nervous system.
If the stress factors are removed immediately, no harm accrues and all the changes are reversible. Continued exposure to the stress factor however can result in anxiety or a stress disorder.
Symptoms of Stress
Stress in its earlier and reversible stage leads to poor sleep, bad temper, continual grumbling, domestic
conflict, repeated minor illnesses, accident proneness, a feeling of frustration, and possible increase in alcoholic intake in an effort to combat the effects.
Stress disorders are different to the experience of normal day-to-day stress. These occur as a result of profound trauma, such as encountering or witnessing a death, or experiencing serious injury.
People with stress disorders have intense fear, helplessness, or horrors.
Causes of Stress
Stress may he caused by a variety of factors both outside the body and within. External factors include loud noises, blinding light, extreme temperature, radiation, drugs, chemicals, bacterial and various toxic substance, pain, and inadequate nutrition.
Internal stress factors include anger, envy, jealousy, etc. Work related stress is very common, particularly amongst high achievers. A feeling of being unable to cope with a current situation is a powerful stimulant of stress related symptoms.
Stress disorders are caused by the combination of a traumatic event and a strong reaction to it. Such traumas include war, rape, inappropriate sexual experience or illness.
Treatment for Stress and Anxiety
Soothe your jangled nerves with one or more of the herbal remedies listed below.
- Avoid artificial stimulants such as caffeine, refined sugar, nicotine and alcohol.
- Drink more water and soothing herb teas such as lemon balm and chamomile.
- Regular physical exercise plays an important role in the fight against stress. It not only keeps the body physically and mentally fit, but also provides recreation and mental relaxation.
- Recreation and rest are also important.
- Above all, try to simplify your style of living to eliminate unnecessary stress
Herbal Remedies for Stress and Anxiety
Passion Flower (Passiflora) is the perfect herb for nourishing the nervous system, working gently and safely to reduce anxiety.
Instead of sedating the nerves, which can cause other effects such as drowsiness and a feeling of being disconnected, Passiflora reduces levels of anxiety in the body. It works on both the physical body, relaxing muscles, and the emotional symptoms, calming the mind. Taking passiflora often results in a better night’s sleep.
This remedy has no contraindications or side effects when used at the normal dosages. It won’t create physical dependency and doesn’t cause drowsiness or problems with concentration. In fact, as it promotes better sleep, it may increase energy and improve memory and mental focus.
Dose: The usual dosage is 4 – 8 grams daily of a standardised extract. If using an infusion, then: 2 grams in 150 ml of water, 3 to 4 times daily.
Kava Kava ( Piper methysticum ) calms the nerves and is part of many herbal formulas for that purpose. Easing anxiety and creating a sense of peacefulness are the most common therapeutic uses of kava today. In Europe, kava root extract is a commonly prescribed treatment for anxiety and nervousness.
Modern research confirms the effectiveness of Kava Kava. Kava root contains “kavalactones” — active ingredients that have been shown to produce physical and mental relaxation and feelings of well-being.
In contrast to other “modern” anti-anxiety drugs, Kava does not cause the “fuzzy” mind or blurred thoughts. In fact, some European studies have found that Kava actually sharpens concentration and memory while, or by, creating the sense of well-being. This makes Kava appropriate for use during normal, daily activities. It is also non-additive.
Dose: Kava kava standardized extract, 100 – 250 mg one to three times a day as needed, for symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Precautions: Use only under the supervision of your health care provider if you have pre-existing liver problems, drink alcohol, or take prescription and non-prescription medications.
St John’s Wort
St John’s Wort has a history of medicinal use dating back to ancient Greece, where it was used to treat a range of illnesses, including various ‘nervous conditions’. Several studies in patients with depression report that in addition to effects on depression, St. John’s wort may also reduce anxiety symptoms.
Dry herb (in capsules or tablets) – 300 to 500 mg (standardized to 0.3% hypericin extract), three times per day, with meals.
Tea: Pour one cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 tsp of dried St. John’s wort and steep for 10 minutes. Drink up to 2 cups per day for four to six weeks.
The name of this herb is believed to come from the Latin word “valere” meaning to be healthy or strong. Use of valerian as a sedative and anti-anxiety treatment has been reported for more than 2,000 years.
Valerian is widely used in North America, Europe, and Japan to treat insomnia and anxiety. Although the active ingredients in valerian are not known, preparations are often standardized to the content of valerenic acid. The root of the plant is believed to contain its active constituents.
The leaves of holy basil have been found beneficial in the treatment of stress. They are regarded as an anti-stress agent.
Recent studies have shown that the leaves protect against stress significantly. It has been suggested that even healthy persons should chew twelve leaves of basil twice a day, morning and evening, for preventing stress
Catnip ( Nepeta cataria ), Chamomile ( Matricaria chamomilla), and Lemon Balm ( Melissa officinalis ) are herbs commonly used to help manage stress in tea form.
Combine all three herbs, and make calming teas to sip throughout the day. Dose for teas is 1 – 2 heaping teaspoonfuls per cup water, steeped for 10 – 15 minutes (roots need longer).
Any experience with, or questions about, treating anxiety and stress with herbal remedies? I’d love to hear! Feel free to leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you.